Continuing pandemic keeps African children out of school-a global problem

Experts say that providing African children with high-quality, safe, gender-equality and inclusive education is becoming more and more out of reach. Image source: Joyce Chimbi/IPS
  • Joyce ChimbiNairobi)
  • International news agency

Sarah Kitana, a middle school teacher in Katiani in Macchokos County, told IPS that after a year of COVID-19-driven interruption and the ensuing long periods of out of school, there were fewer students in the classroom. This is more pronounced in rural areas.

“Those who come back find it difficult to cope with the new fast-paced learning to make up for lost time. Middle school students study 8 to 13 subjects. Some schools have their students get up at 3 in the morning, class at 4:30, and in the evening The day of study ends at 10:45,” she said.

“These efforts have helped bring some normalcy to the disrupted, reorganized and shortened academic calendar. Kenya’s academic calendar will not return to normal until January 2023.”

In pre-COVID Africa, more importantly, sub-Saharan Africa has deviated from the track of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is to “ensure inclusive and fair quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

In 2019, UNESCO Institute for Statistics Point out that of all regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of education exclusion, because more than one in five children aged 6 to 11, one third of children aged 12 to 14 and 60% of children aged 15 to 17 Not at school.

July 2021, UNICEF Announced that due to COVID-19 and other pre-pandemic challenges faced by the continuously fragile education system, at least 40% of school-age children in Eastern and Southern Africa are out of school.

United Nations data shows that there are active armed conflicts in at least 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. According to Josephat Kimathi, an educator at the Kenyan Ministry of Education, civil war, teenage pregnancy, child marriage, access challenges caused by disability, displacement caused by climate change, and the economic shock of COVID-19 will only increase the number of out-of-school children.

Missing education can have a lifetime impact. Save the Children’s July 2020 projections indicate that children who were out of school due to school closures due to the pandemic could lose $10 trillion in income.

In 16 of Kenya’s 47 counties, UNICEF More than 27,500 disabled children were found out of school.

Kimathi said that not only has the education of a whole generation been disrupted in human history, it has become increasingly inaccessible to provide African children with high-quality, safe, gender-sensitive and inclusive education.

“In contrast, Kenya is a fairly stable country. But in fact, 1.8 million children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 17 are out of school. Another 700,000 children between the ages of four and five do not have the opportunity to interact with children. Getting into elementary school to prepare, this fully explains the situation in unstable countries,” Kimathi told IPS.

A quarter of children in Africa live in conflict zones.New analysis Save the child Among the 12 extreme risk countries facing increased risk of dropping out, except Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the rest are African countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal.

Kimati said that throughout Africa, the poorest children in rural, arid, ethnic and marginalized communities will be the most devastating effects of the pandemic.

Grace Gakii, a gender expert in Nairobi, says the epidemic has driven more girls out of Africa’s education system.According to a report in 2021, at least 1 million girls in Africa may never be able to return to school Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

According to UNESCO data, before the COVID, 9 million girls aged 6 to 11 years old living in sub-Saharan Africa will never be able to go to school compared with 6 million boys of the same age.

Gakii talked about the escalating challenges of recruiting and retaining girls to school in arid, semi-arid and pastoral communities, and worried about losing the results achieved.

The Elangata Enterit boarding school located in the Narok herder community in southern Kenya is a perfect example of success. In 2007, none of the girls in the school participated in the vitally compulsory Kenya Primary Education Certificate (KCPE).

Through intervention, the number of girls participating in KCPE increased to 30 in 2016, and it continues to grow.

Although 42 African countries provide free and compulsory primary education, and the African Union member states strive to invest at least 20% of their domestic budgets in education, before COVID-19, UNESCO’s data shows that there are still 100 million children are out of school. -Sub-Saharan Africa.

July 2020, Save the child It is estimated that the “economic recession driven by the pandemic will cause a shortage of US$77 billion in education spending in some of the world’s poorest countries in the next 18 months”.

Kimathi said that Africa will need specific education programs to help build resilience to shocks and put the already weak education system back on track. It also needs funds to implement the action plan. Finally, it needs to take active measures to ensure the safety of children, and it needs a system to track and ensure that the African continent remains in normal operation.

He praised Kenya’s efforts to accelerate the implementation of the right to education for all children.

This includes the ongoing “School Action Plan” for 16 rural counties notorious for out-of-school children.

He said this is critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4, especially considering UNESCO’s dire prediction that by 2030 50% of children in sub-Saharan Africa will not be able to complete secondary education.


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© Inter Press Service (2021) — All rights reservedOriginal source: International News Service

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